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FACEValue: Forklift operator crushed between forklift cage and mast

Date of incident: April 4, 2008

A forklift/baler operator was killed after being crushed between the cage and the mast of the forklift he was operating. The victim was working the first shift at an envelope manufacturer. The victim, who was the only forklift operator working that shift, had been employed with the company for 26 years. The victim was positioning a pallet loaded with corrugated cardboard boxes on top of other stacked pallets inside a tractor trailer when the incident occurred.

After lowering the pallet onto the stack, the victim noticed it would not slide off the raised forklift tines and exited the forklift to determine where the pallet was stuck. He left the forklift running, with the emergency brake engaged. While climbing onto the exterior front section of the forklift and reaching up between the cage and the mast, the victim’s foot engaged the forklift’s mast tilting control lever. The mast tilted back and crushed the victim between the mast and the cage. A janitor passing by discovered the victim and called emergency medical services. CPR was administered at the scene, and the victim was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Employers should ensure forklift operators never position themselves or any part of their bodies between the forklift operator’s cage and the upright of the mast while the forklift is running. In this case, the victim was standing partially on the dashboard and reaching between the forklift’s upright mast and the operator’s cage while the forklift was running. Operators should never access the area around and between the upright masts and the operator’s cage while the forklift is running. OSHA prohibits the placement of arms or legs between the uprights of the mast or outside the running lines of the truck.
  • Employers should ensure standard operating procedures are followed and that these include alternative procedures for nonroutine tasks.

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